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Type 2 diabetes: The NHS offers 800-calorie diet treatments

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The ultra-low-calorie diet that can reverse type 2 diabetes is to form part of a trial run by the NHS in the UK.

A diet of 800 calories a day using liquid food and shakes will be prescribed for three months, initially up to 5,000 people, and follow-up support is provided.

Nine out of 10 people with diabetes in the UK have type 2, which is closely related to diet and lifestyle.

The NHS England program to prevent people with type 2 diabetes is also being expanded.

A trial at the end of last year from a low-calorie diet has helped almost half of those involved to reverse the condition.

It is now set to be rolled out more broadly to assess whether this success can be replicated in the wider population.

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Prof. Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity for the British NHS, admits that this diet is undoubtedly challenging and not suitable for everyone.

"But we think it is necessary to explore the implementation of these programs in the NHS so that those who can benefit, can benefit," he said.

While type 2 diabetes can have a genetic component, it is strongly associated with being overweight or obese.

About two thirds of adults and one third of children are currently overweight or obese, which raises the level of the condition.

Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease that is not related to being overweight or inactive.

What is type 2 diabetes?

  • This is a common condition that causes blood sugar (glucose) levels to become too high
  • This is caused by problems with chemicals in the body (hormones) called insulin
  • Type 2 diabetes can cause symptoms such as excessive thirst, need to urinate a lot and fatigue
  • It can also increase the risk of getting serious problems with the eyes, heart and nerves

The type 2 diabetes prevention program has been running in the UK for the past three years and has seen encouraging results.

So far, more than 250,000 people at the cusp of type 2 diabetes have been referred to classes that offer advice and support for food, diet and exercise.

On average, participants each lost 8 kg (3.6kg), greatly reducing their risk of becoming diabetic.

Now this program will also experience significant expansion, helping 200,000 people per year.

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Prof. Valabhji said it was important that the program continued to show results.

"Of course what counts at the end of the day is whether we prevent type 2 diabetes from appearing.

"We received an independent evaluation from the program that will see, first, whether we have prevented diabetes in individuals who participated in this program.

"But secondly, we have the means to see whether the program has had a positive impact on the overall level of development of type 2 diabetes in the entire population."

Chris Askew, chief executive of the Diabetes UK charity, said the plan to double the size of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Program was "good news".

"The ambitions shown by the NHS need to be matched across all government policies – we need stronger action on marketing for children, and clearer nutritional labeling to support people to make healthy choices," he said.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS UK, said: "What's good for our waistlines is also good for our wallets, given the huge costs for all of us as taxpayers of this very preventable disease."

But he said the NHS could not ignite the battle itself.

"The NHS pound will continue even further if the food industry also takes action to reduce junk calories and add sugar and salt from processed foods, TV dinners and fast food," Stevens said.

This announcement preceded what is known as the Forward Plan for the NHS in the United Kingdom, where measures that prevent ill health in the first place are expected to be very emphasized.

Do you have type 2 diabetes? Will you take part in this low-calorie diet if your GP offers it to you? Have you ever had a similar diet in the past? E-mail

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